Monday, March 9, 2009

Keynote Address at the Degree-handover Ceremony to Graduates of 2006-2007

5th March 2008, Royal University of Phnom Penh

- Your Excellencies, Ambassadors to the Kingdom of Cambodia,

- Your Excellencies, distinguished national and international guests,

- Dear government officials, lecturers, and students!

Today, me and my wife have a great pleasure to join the graduation ceremony for bachelor and master degrees students of the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) who have graduated in 2007. This is my 12th presence to join such graduation ceremony at RUPP. These events and achievements are our joint reminiscences and will always stay in my mind, which deepens my feeling and always attract my attention. The continuous and never to be complacent benefits for the society that we received from here have become the growing seeds in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Today’s graduates will also become the seeds that will continue to grow and return fruits to our society.

According to the report of the university’s rector, H.E. Kol Pheng; Senior Minister; Minister of Education, Youth and Sport (MEYS) I believe that this additional achievement of 1,448 graduates which includes 1,422 bachelor and 26 master degree graduates, is an achievement among other numerous achievements in the area of human resource development with equity, quality, and talent in order to contribute to poverty reduction and development as well as to respond to the agenda raised in the RGC’s “Rectangular Strategy” in the Third Legislature of the National Assembly. Indeed, our step-by-step achievements will fulfil the wish of our society and sustain the smooth and balanced implementation of our strategies.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the RGC, and on my own and my wife behalf, I would like to show my most sincere appreciation for the numerous achievements made by the RUPP as well as the MEYS and the efforts of the RUPP’s officials and lecturers who have been giving special attention to education and training. At the same time, I would also like to thanks development partners that actively support the education sector in Cambodia to achieve this satisfactory outcome because this outcome cannot be isolated from the valued assistance of our foreign friends that support the smooth and standardized education and training programs. On the one hand, these tasks are the key for the development of higher education, and on the other hand for the development of education and training sector in Cambodia as well as contributing to our country’s development. At the same time, I would also like to show my appreciation to all students for their efforts and commitment in attaining such bright success as witnessed today. Indeed, what we are witnessing today is the pride for all of us including graduates of the RUPP, MEYS, development partners and the RGC.

The spirit of the “Rectangular Strategy” for “Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency” has played an important guiding role in the development and implementation of the RGC’s policy in the Third Legislature of the National Assembly. This is the key factor to ensure sustainable development for Cambodia although peace, stability, and security factors are the prerequisites. To achieve this, the development of human resource with equity, quality and talent as well as with the aspiration for work is included in a rectangle of this strategy. As a result, this rectangle is highly valued for its strong and broad development and progress. The changing face of the education sector in Cambodia strongly contributes to the accomplishment of the “Rectangular Strategy”. In the present condition, we can clearly see that Cambodia enjoys a high economic growth rate that cannot be separated from the contribution of education and training sector. In this sense, education and training sector will remain the future RGC’s priority in making its development policies decision as this sector will enable growth and productivity. In short, education sector is a base of growth.

At the same time, Cambodia needs technology transfers in all sectors, especially in agriculture sector, to rapidly overcome any challenges such as the effect of globalisation, productivity improvement, diversification and standard compliance etc. Specifically, the transfer of technology does not only refer to the import of tools or utilities from overseas, but it is a mechanism that requires users’ knowledge on how to use them in order to improve productivity and efficiency. Through this mechanism, education and training sector will become even more important than ever. Looking ahead, our national universities must focus on the scope of their training programs to become as big as other international universities which includes having curriculum and cooperation with peer universities by paying particular attention to exchange programs of students and lecturers and continue to expand the offering of science and technology courses to the public, especially to our next generation in order to transform them into quality producers with high productivity.

Indeed, the steady advancement in production technologies will transform labour-intensive economy into capital and knowledge intensive economy. This is why we have to aim for production improvement that requires concerted effort from universities, education and training institutions in the new millennium by ensuring that our education and training programs can support and respond to the changing economic force as expected.

On the path to the globalization of international economies, the globalization of higher education plays a key role for the development of education with quality and efficiency and continue to expand the opportunity for cooperation with other international education institutions on the basis of mutual interests and equality. In this sense, I would like to see the standard of Cambodian education to reach a comparable level with other developed countries in order to enable us to overcome regional and global challenges. That is because I am strongly convinced that “The value of education is always the core of personal development and national development”. At the same time, I am very delighted to know that the university has exerted its efforts in making fruitful cooperation with development partners regarding education and training as well as showing the commitment to a bright and optimistic future progress. In this sense, I am also prideful and hopeful that our nation is catching up with neighbouring countries and the world because we have our own educational and training institutions and have made real self-development and possess willing and dedicated executive officers.

Along with the hope, we have to overcome many challenges; hence I would like to appeal to all universities to direct their attention to development in rural areas in parallel with development in the cities. In addition, students’ research studies and thesis must be widely promoted in order to seek solutions to key emerging issues in rural areas. This is an initiative which allows our tertiary institutions to get engaged directly in rural development, providing ideas and modern strategies on technology, production, economy, social affairs and culture aiming at reducing poverty of our people. Regarding this work, the government would like to ask all local authorities, development partners and international development agencies who are operating in rural area to facilitate and coordinate closely with our researchers during research period.

In the era of knowledge, education determines the fate of each nation. In this sense, for the bright future as well as the response to new challenges and needs from increasing and growing competitiveness of markets, the government will continue to develop human resources of high quality and intelligence for participating in the process of regional and the world integration in term of both economic and social developments. With this vision and to catch up with the rapid universal evolution of technology improvement and huge stock of information as well as prevention of job loss in the future, you must stick to one thing namely lifelong learning. Enriched knowledge and capability that you received from education and training will turn into a sharp weapon for Cambodia.

On the other hand, you must bear in mind that society is changing very fast so that you can not match your skill to your desired jobs, hence you do not need to await profession that meets your expertise. Importantly, you must be able to grab the existing opportunity and chance. Besides, when you enter the society or labour market you must be patience and try to absorb job experience which is the path to better livelihood. Along with the opportunity of receiving salary from work to support your living, you must also observe the chance for self-development in the field aiming at creating employment based upon individual speciality.

Furthermore, creating self-employment in society would be a very successful thing in our life because we can manage and be responsible for our destiny, and only those who are committed to learning will receive that fortune. Self-employment does not only mean helping one’s self but it also contributes to national economic development. This task creates a branch of economy which in turns generates jobs for others.

I strongly believe that all 1,448 students who will receive their degrees in a short moment will become the real knowledge work force to serve our nation, and you must prepare yourself as intellectuals of ethics and good moral for developing the nation in the near future. You must remember that intellectuals without ethics and good moral will never be good citizens for the nation. Taking this opportunity, I would like to wish all of you success and happiness in all your future endeavours.

Once again, along with these achievements, there remains many works to be done in order make achievements in conformity to spirit of “Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency”. I would like to ask the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to review the possibility to strengthen and extend the public services nation-wide, especially to rural areas and areas along the border by having close cooperation with local authorities. This work must be done because those regions have been integrated through our infrastructure development program which is no longer an obstacle. If it is successful, it allow us to gain not only full equity but also the knowledge and capacity building for the people living in those regions as well as helping to preserve the culture, tradition and strengthen national identity.

In closing, I would like to wish Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, lecturers, students Five Gems of Buddhist Blessings.


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